It was 43 years ago today (September 29th, 1977) that Billy Joel released his breakthrough fifth album, 1977's The Stranger. The album didn't enter the Top 10 until nearly four months after its release, finally appearing on January 21st, 1978 when it took a four-spot jump to enter at Number 10 under The Grand Illusion by Styx. The Stranger hit Number Two on February 18th, 1978 — blocked from the top spot by the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever — and remained stalled at Number Two for six straight weeks.
The Stranger stayed in the Billboard Top 10 for a total of 17 weeks and marked Billy's first collaboration with the legendary Phil Ramone, who went on to produce the next six Billy Joel albums — 1978's 52nd Street, 1980's Glass Houses, 1981's Songs In The Attic, 1982's The Nylon Curtain, 1983's An Innocent Man, and 1986's The Bridge. To date, The Stranger remains Billy Joel's biggest selling original album, having earned “Diamond” status for sales of over 10 million units.
The album spawned four Top 40 hits — “Movin Out” (Anthony's Song)” – Number 17; “Only The Good Die Young” – Number 24; “She's Always A Woman” – Number 17; and the Top Three era-defining evergreen “Just The Way You Are,” which scored Billy both the 1978 Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year Grammy Awards — along with countless cover versions, worldwide acclaim — not the least of which included Frank Sinatra permanently adding it to his concert setlists and Billy's hero Paul McCartney going on record as saying it was among the songs he wished he had written.